Every young girl and woman most likely knows what HPV is, but according to The Mayo Clinic it is:
HPV infection occurs when the virus enters your body through a cut, abrasion or small tear in the outer layer of your skin. The virus is transferred primarily by skin-to-skin contact.
Genital HPV infections are contracted through sexual intercourse, anal sex and other skin-to-skin contact in the genital region. Some HPV infections that result in oral or upper respiratory lesions are contracted through oral sex.
Why am I writing about it? I am writing this to inform other women about something that is not often told until you find out you have this virus. I am writing this also because I want women to know that it can reoccur at any time.
My story: The Readers Digest Version is that when I was 19, just after giving birth to my first child, I went in for my six months’ check up, which was customary and was told that my pap smear indicated that I had this virus. Having only been intimate with my first husband, you can read between the lines and see that this was problematic but that is not what is important at this time. I will save writing about that on another post. I was at stage 4 and my doctor scheduled cryosurgery which is freezing off the legions on my cervix for the end of the week. The procedure was done, my pap smears were abnormal for the next five years, but eventually my pap smears were back to normal. I went on to have five more children and all pap smears were normal.
Today women are told that this is a slow growing virus. Thirty years ago it was probably not known as such. At any rate, today, in many cases, women are told to wait and have another pap smear in six months. Apparently the virus clears up on its own. If the virus is in fact slow growing, I most likely had the virus for a few years before my son was born.
Today women are told that HPV is prevalent, that most everyone has it if they have had sex. That is not very comforting. However, it can go away by itself, quite mysteriously, and for all practical purposes, that is a good thing.
Hormones play a big part in HPV according to the doctors. Pregnancy can ‘bring it on’ and then it can mysteriously disappear. What most young women do not know and are not told is that Menopause can also ‘bring it on’, or in my case, bring it back.
Getting a pap and pelvic once a year for over thirty years has not concerned me. Probably because I am crazy about my gynecologist. He is funny, has delivered my children, and I trust him with my womanly health. Imagine my surprise when I had a pap smear six months ago that came back abnormal with HPV. I immediately shot my husband a Menopausal growl, but was quickly informed by my doctor that this virus comes and goes as it pleases, and especially when the body is in a heightened state of hormonal distress, such as pregnancy or menopause. I sadly went back for my next visit a few weeks ago. I still have it. I had a procedure done where the doctor washes your insides with some kind of acid which sounds awful and was quite scary but not bad at all. This indicates if it has spread to your insides or something. I also learned that there are hundreds of strains of this virus and of these vast amounts, only a few are classified as, ‘deadly’. I of course have one of these evil strains. My immediate response was to take everything out, I don’t need it anyway. My doctor has assured me that it is not necessary at all, and that it will most likely waltz out of my life when my hormones calm down into some kind of normalcy.
I do desperately think that we need good doctors. I do not like doctors. They scare me. I happen to trust this doctor implicitly so will allow time to run its’ course. However, I am not a patient person, and if anything seems to be changing, all womanly parts are history.
Gardasil: This vaccine was developed over ten years ago for both girls and boys and doctors are recommending that children receive it to protect against HPV. I have recently learned that it does protect against some strands; those that are not the evil deadly kind. Ladies and gents, do your due diligence and look into it.
The most important thing to remember when you have HPV is not to panic. Just go to your yearly or six months’ visits. See a doctor you trust.
I don’t think about it everyday but it is in the back of my mind. I don’t like having this evil virus inside me but there is nothing I can do about it, nor was there anything I did to myself to cause it. Therefore, I meander my merry way. I just add it to my menopausal sarcastic list: one of the joys of being a woman.